RealTime IT News

Organic to Promote Priceline.co.uk

[London, ENGLAND] Internet professional services firm Organic, Inc. announced Friday it will conduct a US $3 million online campaign to launch Priceline.co.uk.

The campaign will start at the beginning of November and run to January 2001, introducing the "name your own price" Priceline concept to U.K. Internet users. The first products to be offered will be airline tickets, followed by hotel bookings, car rentals and long-distance telephony.

Behind the launch is Priceline Europe, a joint venture backed by Priceline.com and private equity firm General Atlantic Partners. It says it is adapting the system for European markets, although exactly how it will differ from the U.S. model is not yet clear.

In fact, John Baker, managing director of Organic's London office, said the Priceline concept was so popular in the United States his firm "will be looking to replicate this in the U.K."

The timing of the remarks is perhaps unfortunate, as Priceline.com in the U.S. laid off 87 staff earlier this week, having turned in poor results for the quarter. In September it was forced to lower expectations by admitting that its third-quarter revenues would be below the range of analysts' estimates.

However, in Europe, the Priceline concept is new and fresh -- and the company expects to attract many customers with the online campaign.

Earl Quenzel, head of marketing at Priceline Europe, said there had been a competitive pitch for the promotional account. It was felt that Organic had in-depth expertise in this area, having successfully implemented online campaigns for many other clients, said Quenzel.

Organic claims to have developed an exciting launch strategy for Priceline, with the focus on defining the brand proposition online. It will use streaming banner advertising, sponsorship, search engine optimization and e-mail marketing to communicate the message.

Instead of taking a direct approach via mainstream media, Organic will infiltrate chat rooms and news groups, seek out grass roots communities and put its client at the top of the search engines -- so the story goes.

To date, Organic has handled online promotions for DaimlerChrysler, BT, Tommy Hilfiger, Blockbuster, Washington Mutual, and other blue chip corporations.